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Turkey's Protests: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Steven A. Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
June 6, 2013

A demonstration over plans to replace Istanbul's Gezi Park with an urban development project has inspired widespread anti-government protests across Turkey. Steven Cook, CFR's senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, highlights three things to know about the protests:

Protests Will Not Oust Erdogan: The protests in Turkey should not be equated with uprisings in Egypt or other Arab countries, Cook emphasizes. If Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to leave, it can only happen "through the ballot box," he says.

Broader Concerns at Play: While the development plans for Gezi Park had originally sparked the protests, these demonstrations are about the "authoritarian turn in Turkish politics," says Cook. Protestors are voicing their concerns over larger issues such as environmental destruction, police brutality, crony capitalism, and the "marginalization of the people who disagree with [Erdogan's] world view."

Defusing Tensions: The demonstrations can only be defused "through some type of gesture from Prime Minister Erdogan himself," Cook argues. Attempts by other Turkish leaders to quell tensions have so far been unsuccessful because so much of the public anger is directed at Erdogan personally.

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